My friend Drew recently gave me 5 lbs. of organic fresh Fava beans that he grew in his garden over the winter. The 2016 Northern California winter was particularly wet, with heavy rains alternating with warm sunshine – perfect conditions for his Fava bean cover crop which produced large plump and absolutely beautiful pods. Drew kept posting Facebook photos of the progress, from seed to harvest. And those of us who enjoyed watching them grow, got to partake in his bounty.
When he gave me the beans, I decided to make this Spring Fava Bean Salad to take along on a weekend picnic. It had been a while since I shelled so many beans, and although the process was a bit time consuming, the outcome was worth the effort.
I used Aleppo Chile pepper to garnish the salad. This chile is prized for its bright tartness and mild heat. It gives the dish a distinct Mediterranean flavor, which is perfect for a Fava bean salad which included Persian cucumbers, lemon, olive oil and Italian parsley. The salad was delicious, satisfying and filling and made for a lovely main dish for our picnic lunch.
Fava Bean Salad ingredients:
- 3-5 lbs. of fresh Fava beans
- 3 Persian cucumbers, sliced thin into half rounds
- 1 orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 carrot, shavings (the outside sweet layers)
- 1 shallot, diced
- ¾ cup Italian parsley, chopped
- 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 tsp. Aleppo Chile pepper
- Sea salt (to taste)
Preparing the beans:
Prepare a bowl with ice water before you start cooking.
Remove the beans from the outer pods. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, season with sea salt and place the beans in the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 min until the beans are bright green. Remove one bean, cool and peel and test for the texture. They should be cooked but still crisp and green. Remove the beans from the water and transfer to the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
When cooled, remove the outer skin from each bean by pinching the skin and squeezing out the green bean. It is not mandatory to remove the skins, however the beans taste better without the skins and are much easier to digest.
Once the beans are peeled, toss them with the cucumbers, bell pepper, shallots, parsley, carrot shavings, lemon juice and Aleppo pepper. Salt to taste and serve at room temperature. If you plan to make this salad ahead of time, do not add the sea salt until you are going to eat the salad, as the salt will wilt the cucumbers.